Monday, January 30, 2012

Margaret Roach Interviews C.R. Lawn in Advance of Monsanto Lawsuit

On January 31 in New York City, a judge will hear the opening arguments of 83 co-plaintiffs in the case against Monsanto. Margaret Roach has an interview with C.R. Lawn (a co-founder of Fedco Seeds and one of the 83 co-plantiffs) that she will be posting on her site. If you're not familiar with the case that begins this week see this explanation on the Public Patent Foundation's website.

Here's a teaser of one question from Margaret Roach's interview with C.R. Lawn.

Q. What do you want every gardener to do? What actions can consumers take in support of a similar ethic, and in behalf of a safer future?

A. Gardeners and other consumers should:

•Support the campaign to label genetically engineered foods.  See
•Support California's initiative to become the first state to pass a mandatory GMO labeling law.
•Avoid purchasing transgenic foods in your supermarket, coop or health food store. The Center for Food Safety has good lists of what to avoid. [NOTE FROM MARGARET: PUBPAT “encourages the public to not buy any products made with corn, soy, sugar, canola, cotton or alfalfa unless you are certain it was made without any use of genetically modified seed. If you're not sure, call the manufacturer and ask."]
•If you belong to a food coop, help them keep transgenic foods out of their store.
•Varieties in our [Fedco] catalog have a source code. Purchase those coded 1-3 and try to avoid those coded 5, from multinational suppliers who engage in biotech.
•Buy open-pollinated seeds instead of F-1 hybrids whenever possible.
•Support small alternative seed companies who have signed the Safe Seed Pledge and don't knowingly carry transgenic varieties.
•Better yet, learn how to save your own seeds and start doing it!

For the rest of the interview follow her on Twitter or subscribe at her site. Margaret hopes to have it up the day the trial begins. It should be an interesting read.

Don't forget that this week @InkandPestemon is the guest host and we'll be talking about soil blocks.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Soil Blocks Feb 1st

This week @inkandpenstemon will return as a guest host of #SeedChat. She'll be teaching us how to make soil blocks. Leave pre-submitted questions for her in the question form.

Leave a question and join us on February 1st at 8pm Central 9pm Eastern to chat about making your own soil blocks. Then join us for #SeedChat

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Growing Sprouts Guest Host Colleen Vanderlinden

Join us on Wednesday January 25th at 8pm Central 9pm Eastern for a discussion on growing sprouts. Our Guest host will be @C_Vanderlinden. Colleen is the blogger behind InTheGardenOnline and author of Edible Gardening for the Midwest.  She also writes for Tree Hugger and a slew of other sites. She'll be teaching us how we can safely grow sprouts right on our own kitchen counters. Leave pre-submitted questions for her in the question form.

Leave a question and join us on January 25th at 8pm Central 9pm Eastern to chat about sprouting seeds. What kind of seeds can be grown as sprouts? Find out at #SeedChat

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Diane Ott Whealy Guest Hosts SeedChat

This week we're honored to have Diane Ott Whealy as the guest-host of #SeedChat on Twitter on Weds at 6pm Pacific, 8pm Central, 9pm Eastern. Mrs. Whealy is the co-founder of Seed Savers Exchange and author of "Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver" available now at book stores and online. Make sure to join us for this exciting chat. We'll go through the pre-submitted questions first and if there is time Diane will answer questions participants have. Follow @SeedChat and @SeedSaversX on Twitter so you don't miss any of the Q & A.

If you aren't familiar with Seed Savers Exchange here is some information on them to bring you up to speed with tomorrow's chat.

SSE Mission
Our non-profit mission is to save North America's diverse, but endangered, garden heritage for future
generations by building a network of people committed to collecting, conserving and sharing heirloom
seeds and plants, while educating people about the value of genetic and cultural diversity.

SSE History
• Started by Kent Whealy and Diane Ott Whealy in 1975, in Missouri
• Moved to Heritage Farm in 1986

Seed Collection
• Seed Savers Exchange has records on and maintains thousands of varieties of open pollinated
vegetables and plants. Seed Savers Exchange is the largest non-governmental seed bank

with the goal of making varieties available to the public. SSE grows, saves, stores and
distributes seeds through its membership-based seed exchange to make varieties available
to gardeners and seed savers around the world.

Each year, Seed Savers Exchange selects a number of varieties to be grown out in the field to
regenerate seed. The seed is selected either because it exists in our collection in limited quantity
or because its germination rate is decreasing. In 2011, grow-outs were conducted in 20 gardens.
Seed Savers Exchange also conducts plant variety evaluations on the material in our collection, in
hopes of increasing distribution and utilization of the collection. In 2011, side by side evaluations
were conducted on collection varieties of peas, lima beans, cowpeas, okra, eggplant, mustard and

In keeping with genetic preservation standards, Seed Savers Exchange stores its seed collection
in several locations. Our principle storage of seed packets is in an underground freezer vault
or laboratory grade chest freezers at Heritage Farm. Back-up samples are maintained off-site
at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway and the National Center for Genetic Resources
Preservation in Ft. Collins, Colorado. The deposits made by SSE at Ft. Collins, as well as at
Svalbard, remain the property of Seed Savers Exchange and cannot be distributed to third parties.
In case of damage to or loss of any of the seed in our storage facilities at Heritage Farm, back-up
seed samples can then be returned to SSE.

Seed Catalog
• There are over 600 varieties of vegetables, flowers, herbs and plants offered in the SSE catalog.
In 2012, this included 74 types of tomato, 53 pepper, 37 squash and 39 bean; more than 200
varieties are certified organic seed.
• Catalog sales support the non-profit mission of Seed Savers Exchange to preserve and distribute
heirloom seeds. Each year the trial gardens become a living catalog where many of the varieties
listed in the catalog are grown out.
• The Seed Savers Exchange Historic Orchard contains hundreds of pre-1900 apple trees as well as
more than one hundred cold hardy grape varieties bred by the late Elmer Swenson. A new, more
public accessible, orchard is being planned.

Ancient White Park Cattle
• White Park cattle play an important role in maintaining the pastures at Heritage Farm. SSE has
more than 100 animals divided into two herds for breeding purposes. Seed Savers’ herd is one of
five major herds in the U.S.
• White Park were recently upgraded from critical to threatened by the American Livestock Breeds

Conservancy; threatened means that there are fewer than 1,000 annual registrations in the United
States and an estimated global population less than 5,000.

Each year, SSE displays heritage poultry from the Sand Hill Preservation Center located near
Clinton, Iowa. The 2011 display includes: four chicken breeds –. Mottled Java, Black Sumatra,
Golden Polish, Light Brahma bantam,; Roman tufted Geese; Bourbon Red Turkey; and Black
Runner Ducks.

Heritage Farm/Trails
• Heritage Farm consists of 890 acres of land, located in Winneshiek County, Iowa; 303 native
species of plants, seven of which are threatened or endangered, have been found on the farm.
• Heritage Farm has 8 miles of hiking trails which are popular with outdoor enthusiasts, bird
watchers and naturalists; more than 100 bird species have been identified at Heritage Farm.
• SSE gardens are certified organic by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
• The Lillian Goldman Visitors Center, an Amish constructed post and beam structure, is located
near the restored barn and surrounded by display gardens.

• South Canoe Creek, located at Heritage Farm, has been named to the list of Outstanding Iowa
Waters by the Iowa DNR due to its water quality.
• SSE entered into an agreement with Iowa DNR, Natural Resources Conservation Service and
Trout Unlimited in 2011 to improve habitat along Canoe Creek for Brook trout, an indigenous
fish that has been reintroduced into Canoe Creek. SSE broke ground on the project in July
2011. In addition to restoring the flow of the original stream bed, gravel substrate was

introduced to the new section of stream to improve the habitat for spawning. The project
was completed in August of 2011.

• SSE has more than 13,000 members, of which more than 1,300 are lifetime members.
• An annual US membership costs $40; three year membership $100; lifetime membership $1000.

Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook

The annual Yearbook, where members exchange seeds, is the Exchange part of Seed Savers
Exchange. The 2012 Yearbook has 642 listed members offering 12,671 unique varieties and a
total of 19,990 listings. The 2012 Yearbook contains 4358 varieties of tomato, 791 pepper, 374
squash and 1477 bean.

In 2012, Heritage Farm offered 1,665 varieties from the collection in the Seed Savers Exchange

Flower & Herb Exchange Yearbook
• The 2011 FHE Yearbook has 132 listed members offering 1,118 total listings. US membership in
FHE is $10.

• The Robert Becker Memorial Library houses more than 3,500 books, media, serial publications
and periodicals, nearly half of which are vintage materials.

Herman’s Garden
• Herman’s Garden is named after the late Herman Warsh, an early supporter of Seed
Savers Exchange. Through the program, Seed Savers donates seed to schools, non-
profit organizations and community gardens around the nation. In 2011, Herman’s
Garden donated more than 30,000 packets of seeds to around 300 organizations.